copyright 2008 by Gary L. Pullman
Note: Unless otherwise noted, definitions are courtesy of dictionary.die.net, an Internet dictionary in the public domain.
Paganism--any of various religions other than Christianity or Judaism or Islamism.
Palmistry--telling fortunes by lines on the palm of the hand.
Pandora--in Greek mythology, the first woman; created by Hephaestus on orders from Zeus who presented her to Epimetheus along with a box filled with evils.
Panspermia--The theory that microorganisms or biochemical compounds from outer space are responsible for originating life on Earth and possibly in other parts of the universe where suitable atmospheric conditions exist (American Heritage Dictionary)
Pantheism--belief in multiple Gods.
Papyromancy--divination using paper (the author).
Paradigm shift--“a change in basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science” (Wikipedia).
Paranormal--seemingly outside normal sensory channels; not in accordance with scientific laws.
Parapsychology--phenomena that appear to contradict physical laws and suggest the possibility of causation by mental processes.
Penile plethysmograph--“that measures changes in blood flow in the penis in response to audio and/or visual stimuli. It is typically used to determine the level of sexual arousal as the subject is exposed to sexually suggestive content, such as photos, movies or audio” (Wikipedia).
Pentagram--a star with 5 points; formed by 5 straight lines between the vertices of a pentagon and enclosing another pentagon.
Perpetual motion machine--a machine which, once it is set in motion, moves continuously thereafter, requiring less energy to operate than it generates; perpetual motion machines are impossible, as they violate the first law of thermodynamics (the author).
Pets, homing of--the ability of pet animals to find their way home over long distances by unknown means (the author).
Phrenology--a now abandoned study of the shape of skull as indicative of the strengths of different faculties.
Philosopher’s stone--a substance that is alleged to be able to transform a base metal, such as lead, into gold (the author).
Physicalism--the doctrine that only physical things exist and that, consequently, all things that exist are physical (the author).
Physiognomy--the human face, believed to be a key to interpreting character (the author).
Piltdown Hoax--a fraud in which the jawbone of an orangutan was represented to belong to and a human skull which had belonged to an undiscovered early form of human being (the author).
Placebo effect--a therapeutic effect without a pharmaceutical or medical basis, simply as a result of the belief that the substance provided will help to alleviate symptoms or remedy physical condition (the author).
Plant perception--the theory or belief that plants are sentient or conscious of their environment and react to stimuli (the author).
Plesiosaur--extinct marine reptile with a small head on a long neck a short tail and four paddle-shaped limbs; of the Jurassic and Cretaceous (dictionary.die.net); some believe that the Loch Ness monster may be a plesiosaur (the author).
Pluto--the Greek god of the underworld.
Poe, Edgar Allan--American author of “tales of the grotesque and the arabesque”; Poe gave the modern horror story its structure and many of its themes (the author).
Poltergeist--a noisy ghost, which is alleged to cause mischief and may be destructive and dangerous (the author).
Polygraph--see “lie detector.”
Possession, demonic or Satanic--the alleged take over and control of a person’s body by Satan or a lesser evil spirit; priests may attempt to evict the spirit by exorcising it (the author).
Post hoc fallacy--see “magical thinking.”
Pragmatic fallacy--“the pragmatic fallacy is committed when one argues that something is true because it works and where ‘works’ means something like “I’m satisfied with it,” “I feel better,” “I find it beneficial, meaningful, or significant,” or “It explains things for me” (The Skeptic’s Dictionary).
Precognition (foretelling the future)--knowledge of an event before it occurs.
Prometheus--in Greek mythology, the Titan who stole fire from Olympus and gave it to mankind.
Pseudo science--knowledge that appears to be or is represented as being scientific but does not conform to scientific principles or cannot be demonstrated as true or false by use of the scientific method; see pyramidology (the author).
PSI--”A term used to demarcate processes or causation associated with cognitive or physiological activity that fall outside of conventional scientific boundaries (ESP, for example)” (Wikipedia).
Psychic--pertaining to forces or mental processes outside the possibilities defined by natural or scientific laws; "psychic reader"; "psychical research"; a person apparently sensitive to things beyond the natural range of perception.
Psychic detective--a person who uses alleged osychic abilities to investigate crime (the author).
Psychic surgery--allegedly, the use of psychic means to perform surgical procedures (the author).
Psychoanalysis--a set of techniques for exploring underlying motives and a method of treating various mental disorders; "his physician recommended psychoanalysis."
Psychokinesis (moving objects by mental means)--the power to move something by thinking about it without the application of physical force.
Psychologism--the explanation of physical, social, historical, cultural, religious, or other facts, principles, beliefs, or values through psychological theory; often used derisively, when this approach is considered reductionistic (the author).
Psychology--the science of mental life.
Psychometry--any branch of psychology concerned with psychological measurements; The art of measuring the duration of mental processes, or of determining the time relations of mental phenomena.
Pterodactyl--extinct flying reptile.
Pyramidiocy--the supposedly scientific study of pyramids and their effects; a pseudo science (the author).
Rama--avatar of Vishnu; any of three incarnations: Ramachandra or Parashurama or Balarama.
Ramtha--“a 35,000 year-old spirit-warrior who appeared in JZ Knight’s kitchen in Tacoma, Washington, in 1977” (The Skeptic’s Dictionary).
Randi's paranormal challenge--the offer of “a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power,” made by James Randi, a “magician and author of numerous works skeptical of paranormal, supernatural, and pseudoscientific claims” (The Skeptic’s Dictionary)
Reflexology--the massaging of feet to diagnose and cure disease” (The Skeptic’s Dictionary)
Relic, holy--a memento, such as bones, a garment, or a body part, that is believed to have belonged to a holy person or saint; see “Christ, foreskin of” (the author).
Reincarnation--a second or new birth.
Remote viewing--the use of psychic powers (and map coordinates) to discern targets or other items of intelligence at specific locations from which the “viewer” is physically absent (the author).
Repressed memory--”the memory of a traumatic event unconsciously retained in the mind, where it is said to adversely affect conscious thought, desire, and action” (The Skeptic’s Dictionary).
Retrocognition--“a type of clairvoyance involving knowledge of something after its occurrence through psychic means” (The Skeptic’s Dictionary).
Revelation--The act of revealing, disclosing, or discovering to others what was before unknown to them.
Rod--“an insect caught in the act of flying by a video camera” and passed off as “some sort of unknown alien life form” (The Skeptic’s Dictionary).
Roswell (New Mexico), UFO--site of the alleged crash of an extraterrestrial spaceship and the recovery of its injured occupants (the author).
Rumpology--“the art of reading the lines, crevices, dimples, and folds of the buttocks to divine the butt owner's character and get a glimpse of what lies ahead by analyzing what trails behind” (The Skeptic's Dictionary).
Rune--any character from an ancient Germanic alphabet used in Scandinavia from the 3rd century to the Middle Ages; "each rune had its own magical significance."